Shoppers embraced Sunday trading yesterday as retailers across the metropolitan area opened their doors all weekend for the first time.
After years of political wrangling and consumers' frustrating and protracted battle for deregulation, thousands of shoppers flocked to suburban shopping centres to propel retail trading hours in Perth into the 21st century.
General retail shops, including Coles, Woolworths, Myer and David Jones, now have the freedom to open from 11am to 5pm on Sundays and public holidays, except Good Friday, Anzac Day and Christmas Day.
Both sides of politics have backed the new era in shopping, with Premier Colin Barnett yesterday saying Sunday trading would inject vigour into the WA retail sector and the State economy.
He conceded that while many bigger retailers were confident they would benefit from Sunday trading after negotiating a mutually beneficial rate for their employees, small businesses still worried higher penalty rates would take a big chunk out of their profits.
Mr Barnett and Opposition Leader Mark McGowan urged shoppers to make it worthwhile for traders to open by embracing Sunday shopping.
Westfield regional manager Malcolm Reed said shoppers voted with their feet yesterday, with three or four trolleys queued up at each of the national chain stores at Whitford City.
Mr Reed said while stores were not as busy as they were on a Saturday, he expected Sunday to become one of the major trading days of the week as people cottoned on to the idea.
WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson used the start of Sunday trading to call for more deregulation.
"Don't underestimate the importance of the decision on Sunday trading," he said.
"It's part of the move to make Perth a more attractive, vibrant place that attracts people to come and visit and move here."
Coles general manager WA Mark Armitage said the day was "massively historical" for the State and would create about 300 new jobs in Coles stores across Perth.
About 700 jobs were created at Big W stores.
Peter Kambouris, who owns home appliance store Kambo's, said Sunday trading had been a long time coming.
"Today Perth catches up with the rest of the world," he said.
Mr Kambouris said the decision to open should be based on supply and demand rather than Government policy.
"We want to see complete deregulation but I understand it's one step at a time," he said.
Sean and Kate Gregory, shopping at Coles yesterday with sons James, Liam and Ben in tow, said Sunday trading would mean not having to try to fit the weekly grocery shop around work and their children's Saturday sport commitments.
"The biggest thing for us is that Saturday's a busy day and trying to squeeze it in . . . is hard," Mr Gregory said.
"Why is it regulated at all? I've never heard a good argument for why shopping should be regulated. It should be up to the shop owners and up to the shoppers."